Taking my sons to SD for the first time and looking for advice.

Rooster Hawk

New member
I’ve decided at the last second as a Christmas gift to take my sons on a pheasant hunting trip to SD for the first time next week. My sons are 20 and 17 and the younger one will be signing with Uncle Sam’s Navy in a month or so and who knows when we could do the trip if we don’t do it now. He’s been pheasant hunting with me almost since he could walk in Iowa where I grew up every Thanksgiving and sometimes over Christmas and going to SD has always been a dream of his (and mine).

Tentative plan is to leave on the 26th and then hunt next week for 3 or 4 days. I am not looking nor can afford going to some expensive lodge and we are fine hunting public land. We have a 2 year old viszla rescue that has not been trained but worked decent over thanksgiving (haven’t had him long and live near Chicago so no access to birds). My son has picked Huron / Chamberlain / Mitchell areas based on some things he’s researched. Seems we can find Airbnb’s and or hotels that are reasonable in those areas.

Since a few of you are the experts I thought I’d post and get your opinions / advice. My questions:

Are these good areas with plenty of public land? Any other recommendations?

Any lodging recommendations that are clean and reasonable?

I’ve looked at this board for years and reading some posts over the last few years make it sound like SD hunting isn’t what is use to be - should we just go to Iowa and save the money as we have private land and places to stay for free? I’d like to experience that ultimate SD hunt with my sons but some things I’ve read on here scare me a bit.

Any advice for what you can do regarding training of a 2 year old viszla for next spring / summer? We take wings to the local dog parks with some cover but that’s about it in the few months we’ve had him.

The dream about SD hunting is you will see more birds than you’ve ever seen and if you can shoot you’ll limit out. It would be great to see lots of wild birds but that’s not necessarily what I expect however I’d like to not get shutout over 3/4 days. I know either way we will have fun together and create some memories and I appreciate any advice / suggestions.

Thanks in advance and merry Christmas!
 

Gatzby

Member
I don’t want to dissuade you from SD, but if tons of birds, and “easy” limits are the criteria I think you will be disappointed. There are plenty of birds to be had but they are spooky pressured birds this time of year and an experienced dog is pretty much a must. That being said you will see some beautiful country, tons of deer and other critters. I love SD pheasant hunting (especially late season) but it’s more about the experience than the numbers. The Huron, Mitchell areas are pretty heavily hunted, I would consider hunting “west river” for better bird numbers. West river can be a bit of an adventure as the country is BIG with amenities far and few between ie gas, lodging etc.
Whatever you decide, good luck and have fun.
PS 2 weeks ago 3 of us harvested 35 birds somewhat near Huron. This was on good private land, 7 solid dogs, and hunting hard. Pretty awesome trip
 

Dakotazeb

Well-known member
Take a look at the weather system coming in on the 26th. It has potential to be a big system covering most of South Dakota and last through Friday. They are not projecting the amount of snow yet but I'm guessing in the next couple of days they will have a better idea. Not the kind of weather you want to be hunting in. And if we get any significant amounts it could really make hunting difficult.
 

BRITTMAN

Active member
Hunting in parts of SD and ND can be remote and that "remoteness" ups a notch or two in December.

I always say when traveling in the Dakotas - you never pass an open gas station without topping off the gas tank. :) Especially true in winter.
 

benelli-banger

Active member
I’ve decided at the last second as a Christmas gift to take my sons on a pheasant hunting trip to SD for the first time next week. My sons are 20 and 17 and the younger one will be signing with Uncle Sam’s Navy in a month or so and who knows when we could do the trip if we don’t do it now. He’s been pheasant hunting with me almost since he could walk in Iowa where I grew up every Thanksgiving and sometimes over Christmas and going to SD has always been a dream of his (and mine).

Tentative plan is to leave on the 26th and then hunt next week for 3 or 4 days. I am not looking nor can afford going to some expensive lodge and we are fine hunting public land. We have a 2 year old viszla rescue that has not been trained but worked decent over thanksgiving (haven’t had him long and live near Chicago so no access to birds). My son has picked Huron / Chamberlain / Mitchell areas based on some things he’s researched. Seems we can find Airbnb’s and or hotels that are reasonable in those areas.

Since a few of you are the experts I thought I’d post and get your opinions / advice. My questions:

Are these good areas with plenty of public land? Any other recommendations?

Any lodging recommendations that are clean and reasonable?

I’ve looked at this board for years and reading some posts over the last few years make it sound like SD hunting isn’t what is use to be - should we just go to Iowa and save the money as we have private land and places to stay for free? I’d like to experience that ultimate SD hunt with my sons but some things I’ve read on here scare me a bit.

Any advice for what you can do regarding training of a 2 year old viszla for next spring / summer? We take wings to the local dog parks with some cover but that’s about it in the few months we’ve had him.

The dream about SD hunting is you will see more birds than you’ve ever seen and if you can shoot you’ll limit out. It would be great to see lots of wild birds but that’s not necessarily what I expect however I’d like to not get shutout over 3/4 days. I know either way we will have fun together and create some memories and I appreciate any advice / suggestions.

Thanks in advance and merry Christmas!

WPA's of decent size will have lots of birds after that storm hits...hard to approach them, however....look at the GFP atlas...you will see where the public land is...WPA's are RED and usually are full of cattails, which you will need after the snow hits...
 

hunter94

Active member
Hunting in parts of SD and ND can be remote and that "remoteness" ups a notch or two in December.

I always say when traveling in the Dakotas - you never pass an open gas station without topping off the gas tank. :) Especially true in winter.

if the snow comes with any any amount of wind, the roads will be impassable and walking through knee deep snow will wear you out quickly...plus wild ass birds!

Iowa sounds good to me as your best alternative. birds are up this year over most of the state and road access will be slightly better.
if they get heavy snow too, it will be difficult there as well.

late season hunting is always rough with cold and snow common.
 

jonnyB

Active member
Take a look at the weather system coming in on the 26th. It has potential to be a big system covering most of South Dakota and last through Friday. They are not projecting the amount of snow yet but I'm guessing in the next couple of days they will have a better idea. Not the kind of weather you want to be hunting in. And if we get any significant amounts it could really make hunting difficult.

This is sound advice! This snow storm looks huge, at least for the southern part of SD. Not only will the main roads be difficult, the secondary/gravel will be a problem. Can you postpone this trip?
 

benelli-banger

Active member
WPA's of decent size will have lots of birds after that storm hits...hard to approach them, however....look at the GFP atlas...you will see where the public land is...WPA's are RED and usually are full of cattails, which you will need after the snow hits...
follow the james river down from the nd border all the way to the ne border...look 40 miles either side of it for wpa's
 

hunter94

Active member
follow the james river down from the nd border all the way to the ne border...look 40 miles either side of it for wpa's

latest forecast i can see is 5-8 inches w/30 mph winds......a lot of sloughs will not have ice thick enough to support a hunter, but enough to hold pheasants......they will be in the cats, but dangerous for walking!
 

Rooster Hawk

New member
Thanks for the responses - we’ve been looking at weather forecast last week plus and it seems to keep getting worse the last few days so that will be deciding factor.

Also not looking for easy limits as we are use to spending a full day in Iowa to get a few birds although last year + has seen improved number of birds. I understand we could hit a game farm and shoot pen raised birds but I have no interest doing that - no offense to anyone.

Thanks again
 

Miforester

Member
My son and i hunted last week in north central SD, we had mild weather and saw a fair amount of birds. We hunted 4 days all public land and killed 12 birds. Birds were flighty, as mentioned temps were mild so birds were not just in the cattails. If the weather comes in you will have a tough hunt with snow depths and winds. Not surenhowbthe storm is tracking but i also hunted SC Nebraska and had good success on both quail and pheasant again on public land. Best of luck with your trip, regardless of the success of the hunt the time spent afield with yours sons is priceless and will create memories that will last a lifetime.
 

jonnyB

Active member
My son and i hunted last week in north central SD, we had mild weather and saw a fair amount of birds. We hunted 4 days all public land and killed 12 birds. Birds were flighty, as mentioned temps were mild so birds were not just in the cattails. If the weather comes in you will have a tough hunt with snow depths and winds. Not surenhowbthe storm is tracking but i also hunted SC Nebraska and had good success on both quail and pheasant again on public land. Best of luck with your trip, regardless of the success of the hunt the time spent afield with yours sons is priceless and will create memories that will last a lifetime.

Three dogs and two hunters, for four day's - 1.5 birds per hunter per day. Might do as well in Iowa and it sounds like it may be free!
 

goldenboy

Well-known member
Not all public land is productive no matter what state you are in. Find food and cover close to each other and you will find birds. Weather throws a wrench in every bodies plans but it can a great way to find birds! They will bunch up and when you find them it will be by the dozens! Be quiet, block them, think like a bird looking for escape and you might shoot a few. But it is fun to see them "boil" out of cover!
 

david0311

Member
Thanks for the responses - we’ve been looking at weather forecast last week plus and it seems to keep getting worse the last few days so that will be deciding factor.

Also not looking for easy limits as we are use to spending a full day in Iowa to get a few birds although last year + has seen improved number of birds. I understand we could hit a game farm and shoot pen raised birds but I have no interest doing that - no offense to anyone.



Thanks again

Please take note of the warnings posters are pointing out to about weather hazards—-(Especially west river).
That amount of snow with high winds not only can ruin a hunt—BUT be life threatening in that country—remoteness-poor to nonexistent cell service ect—

Also may want to consider—that some game farm time might be the best for your dog?
 

Nugent

Member
Hunting in parts of SD and ND can be remote and that "remoteness" ups a notch or two in December.

I always say when traveling in the Dakotas - you never pass an open gas station without topping off the gas tank. :) Especially true in winter.
yep, I agree. Get a dependable, American truck, with 2 tanks, bfg tires.
 

PTM

Member
The worst part of the storm is heavy winds, birds have had mild conditions for awhile, this would be an opportunity the way I see it if the winds would lay down, snow and cold can push the birds into heavy cover and under the right conditions they will hold tighter than opening day birds. All late season hunting is a gamble, weather, wild birds, cold, for whatever reason it is my favorite time to hunt, also Rooster hawk you are a cool dad for taking your kids hunting, if the weather won’t allow it there’s always next year. Although the glory days are likely behind us there is a tradition and ambience that only South Dakota can provide and it’s still the place to go to hunt pheasants in my opinion.
 

Miforester

Member
The worst part of the storm is heavy winds, birds have had mild conditions for awhile, this would be an opportunity the way I see it if the winds would lay down, snow and cold can push the birds into heavy cover and under the right conditions they will hold tighter than opening day birds. All late season hunting is a gamble, weather, wild birds, cold, for whatever reason it is my favorite time to hunt, also Rooster hawk you are a cool dad for taking your kids hunting, if the weather won’t allow it there’s always next year. Although the glory days are likely behind us there is a tradition and ambience that only South Dakota can provide and it’s still the place to go to hunt pheasants in my opinion.

Well said PTM, couldnt agree more!
 

waterdog09

Member
yes well said PTM, I will be heading out that way for our last trip of the season to SD. Myself and 3 other die hards will be braving the weather and conditions Fri-Sun. I personally would go Rooster Hawk but that's my opinion and as the guys I hunt with say I am slightly nuts about pheasant hunting and it would take a act of god for me not to go. this storm should make for some interesting hunting, from the latest forecast where we will be they are calling for 8-10 inches which will make most if not all gravel roads a gamble and all the min maintenance roads un passable with the wind and drifting. But that's part of late season hunting and adds to the stories. Just make sure you come prepared with a shovel and plenty of tow strap/chain incase you do need to get pulled out of a road/ditch.
 

hunter94

Active member
yes well said PTM, I will be heading out that way for our last trip of the season to SD. Myself and 3 other die hards will be braving the weather and conditions Fri-Sun. I personally would go Rooster Hawk but that's my opinion and as the guys I hunt with say I am slightly nuts about pheasant hunting and it would take a act of god for me not to go. this storm should make for some interesting hunting, from the latest forecast where we will be they are calling for 8-10 inches which will make most if not all gravel roads a gamble and all the min maintenance roads un passable with the wind and drifting. But that's part of late season hunting and adds to the stories. Just make sure you come prepared with a shovel and plenty of tow strap/chain incase you do need to get pulled out of a road/ditch.

Pick a nice motel, you will be there for most of your time. I -90 will be shut down, with that much snow and wind.
 
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